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PAFII Episode 6: Pamela Koch and Isobel Contento, Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy on Nutrition Education

All About Nutrition Education

This month’s episode features two lovely women, Pam Koch and Isobel Contento, from the Nutrition Program at the Teachers College at Columbia University and the Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy whose career focus is nutrition education.

The conversation definitely gets in depth about nutrition education, in terms of how to teach it, whether it should be taught, what is appropriate to teach in school/at home and at different age levels, and why it’s important. We delve into their philosophies on nutrition and the food system.

In the episode we discuss:

  • What nutrition education is and why it’s important as a field
  • Why we can’t simply trust our taste buds to guide our food choices
  • An approach to nutrition education that focuses on the “system” rather than blaming individuals
  • A simple basis/approach to eating a nutritive diet
  • The role of advertising and food companies in our food choices and overeating
  • What is a “just, sustainable food system” and what goes into creating that system
  • What is a “food desert”
  • How to teach nutrition and food skills to children of different ages
  • Politics of incorporating nutrition as a school topic
  • Why it’s important to eat well and how eating well influences behavior
  • The content and goals of the curriculums they have developed: “Choice Control and Change”.
  • The importance of portion size
  • How motivation works in general, and how to motivate people to eat better
  • Tactics to make the “right choice” the “easy choice”
  • Holistic education
  • Energy balance

About the Guests

Pamela Koch, EdD, RD the executive director of the Laurie M Tisch Center Food, Education & Policy at Columbia University. She is also a research associate professor of Nutrition Education.

Pam conducts research about the connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating. She translates the results from her research into useful resources such as curricula for schoolteachers and recommendations for policy makers. Pam is the primary author of the three Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series books: Growing Food; Farm to Table & Beyond, and Choice, Control & Change and coordinated the development, evaluation and dissemination of the LiFE. Pam frequently speaks about nutrition education and sustainable food systems at meetings and conferences across the country. Pam also collaborates with several groups conducting food and nutrition education and working to increase access to healthy, sustainable food around New York City. She completed her BS and MS degrees in nutrition at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, and her EdD and RD from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Isobel Contento, Ph.D., CDN is the Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition and Education and Director of the Program in Nutrition. She is also faculty director of the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy within the program.

She conducts research on the design, implementation and evaluation of interventions that use evidence-based theory and strategies to improve health and reduce risk of overweight in youth emphasizing how the interactions among biology, personal behavior, and the food system affect eating patterns and weight. She translates the results of her research into the training of the next generation of nutrition educators, conducting workshops with practitioners, working with Dr. Pam Koch and others in developing curricula, writing a textbook, and speaking world-wide on how to motivate and facilitate health behavior change and provide environmental supports for change.

Resources mentioned:

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